WE CURRENTLY HAVE MORE THAN 300 LISTED ITEMS
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· VELVET UNDERGROUND - VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO (1ST ALBUM, ALSO KNOWN AS THE 'BANANA COVER') - ORIGINAL 1967 VERVE STEREO LP V6-5008 WITH FULL AND UNCENSORED, ORIGINAL "TORSO" BACK COVER (ERIC EMERSON’S TORSO IS PRESENT AND FULLY VISIBLE)
· THE INFAMOUS PEELABLE BANANA STICKER 100% WHOLE AND COMPLETE (ABSOLUTELY NO PART OF IT IS MISSING), BUT HAS A 1-INCH TEAR AT THE TIP OF THE BANANA WHERE A PEEL-OFF WAS ATTEMPTED)
· ORIGINAL U.S. PRESSING
· ORIGINAL BLUE VERVE LABEL WITH LARGE T-SHAPED LOGO AND SILVER PRINT.
· THIS IS THE ORIGINAL, AUTHENTIC, FIRST U.S. PRESSING; THIS IS NOT A REISSUE, AN IMPORT, OR A COUNTERFEIT PRESSING.
· ORIGINAL GATEFOLD COVER, MADE OF THICK CARDBOARD (AMERICAN STYLE)
· THICK, HEAVY VINYL PRESSING
· CLEAN, WEAR-FREE LABELS
(►PLEASE SEE THE IMAGE OF THE COVER, LABEL OR BOTH, SHOWN BELOW)
(Note: this is a REAL image of the ACTUAL item you are bidding on. This is NOT a "recycled" image from our previous auction. What you see is what you’ll get. GUARANTEED!)
We claim without any reservations or exaggerations, in full responsibility, sound mind and good conscience that THIS is the single most important album in Rock history and the single most influential Rock session of the 20th Century – far exceeding in musical and historical importance EVEN the most important albums by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin or The Doors. BID NOW. DON’T WAIT. THE ORIGINAL PRESSINGS WITH “UNCENSORED” (TORSO) COVERS APPEAR ON EBAY ONLY EVERY OTHER YEAR OR SO…
Why do we believe that this modest first album – recorded by a heretofore unknown band, under medieval and chaotic conditions, to no corporate fanfare, with very little promotion or marketing and almost zero sales, managed to surpass in its musical brilliance and artistic and stylistic importance even such cornerstones of Rock music as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band; The Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet; Jimi Hendrix’ “Are you experienced” or Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”?
The answer is simple. All these fine rock classics sold millions, made a huge splash, big noise, exploded for a few weeks or months, topped the charts, illuminated the minds of their contemporaries’ and rivals’ alike, influenced some artists (and alienated the others) and then retired into a comfortable niche of the “rock classic” status bestowed upon them over the next few years and decades. In other words, they may be historically and critically important, but they are for all practical purposes DEAD – they are museum exhibits, of their time and place, but not of this moment; of this time and place; beautiful pieces carved into cold, hard marble, but aged, cold and definitely not breathing. Make no mistake: all these rock classics are our personal favorites. But they carry no immediate or permanent importance, personal resonance and contemporary message. Their age shows, and it shows in ways that are not always complementary or graceful.
Not so with Velvet Underground and Nico. The album has had a life like no other in the history of popular music. From its modest, humble beginnings (except for three tracks, the sessions took place after Columbia already declined to sign up the band, in a decrepit Wand/Scepter studio that was literally being demolished as the band was recording in it), the album snowballed – despite all possible legal, commercial and marketing complications and distractions – into a massive force of its own; an artistic equivalent of avalanche or tsunami. A cultural paradigm not unlike that of the Birth of Jazz, or the dawn of the abstract art (Andy Warhol’s subversive, eye-popping, brain-teasing banana artwork clearly playing a major role in this).
If, in fact, there is another work of art comparable to this album (and this is a BIG “if”), it surely would not be a Rock album -- for there are NO known cultural antecedents and predecessors in the world of popular music, and no points of reference either. The only comparable thing that comes to mind would be Picasso’s Girls of Avignon, or Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring (both from 1913). In the world of contemporary music, the only session that comes reasonably close to the level of the chutzpah and artistic courage of the Velvets’ first album would be John Coltrane’s Ascension (recorded barely a year prior to Velvet Underground and Nico, and quite possibly exerting a strong influence on both Reed and Cale; compare, for example, the maddening cacophonics of the Velvets’ European son with the gushing, unrestrained eruptions of Coltrane’s pure, protean expression, to see what we mean).
And it is easy to see why there are not too many precedents. These works of art are some of the most radical, revolutionary conceptions ever, causing uproar and upheaval of galactic proportions (and in the case of Stravinsky’s ‘Rites of Spring, even a public riot – quite literally!); just like Velvet Underground’s first album, these astonishing works are one-way-ticket departures from all existing norms and forms, dispensing with all structures, conventions and rules once and for all. Think of the Velvets’ first album as Lou Reed and John Cale taking pop music to the guillotine and waving its somewhat slightly detached head to the shocked masses thereafter. Forty one year later, it is still too radical and revolutionary for some narrow minds.
If Lou Reed wasn’t always able to maintain this level of brilliance over the next 40 years of his career, he can easily be forgiven: this album has more brilliance, creativity and ingenuity (and make no mistake, Nico, Cale, Tucker and Morrison ALL equally co-participated in it) to last a lifetime; certainly more than many artists’ entire careers worth of. It’s almost as if Lou Reed spurted all his creative energy on this one session, leaving precious little left for his subsequent works (although this by no means was his sole masterpiece; there would be more to come).
In short, the branch of Rock evolution that Velvet Underground single-handedly begat and nourished is still alive and well, bearing shoots, leaves and fruits (and an occasional dud here and there) long after many larger (and thicker) branches of Rock evolution have withered, died and fallen off. The Velvets’ esthetic vision is as alive and vibrant today as it was 40 years ago, if not more so. If it were for its lasting durability and longevity alone, the album would deserve to be called a Titan.
Read on (don’t lose patience! - there’s much to read)
ABOUT THE ALBUM:
What else can be said of this album that hasn’t already been said? The album that defi(n)ed the era; the music that shattered conventions, the production that influenced everyone over the next four decades, the lyrics that sound fresher today than they did in 1967 and the Andy Warhol artwork that still captures the imagination. This is a sexy, moody, brilliant and occasionally violent work that would be impossible to reproduce today, in the age of political correctness gone amok. Most importantly, THE MUSIC!!!. This is the only album that will make you a honorary resident of New York City, without you ever having to set foot in it. From the opening track ("Sunday Morning"), to the last one ("European son"), Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico and the rest of the crew take you through the kaleidoscope of emotions, settings, ambients, situations, moods and rhythms, not all of which are for the faint of heart. The album includes some of the most beautiful, poetic imagery ever committed to a disc (I’ll be your mirror; Famme Fatale; Venus in Furs). Whether you are into singers-songwriters, pre-punk, beatnik poetry, or ‘60’s rock, this is a must-have.
The guiding light behind the album’s artistic vision, and the proverbial ‘red thread’ that runs through it, it is the depiction of human nature in all its aspects: the good, the bad and the ugly (mostly the latter). The narrative is in the first or the third person, often situational (as in “I’m waiting for my man”), focusing on anxiety, addiction, loneliness, pain, perversion, sex, death, urban cacophony (no, folks, this is NOT your typical flower-power record), and are interspersed with quieter (and shorter), introspective songs and moody, lyrical passages. There is no moralizing involved, no judgmental posturing or sermonizing. Like all great writers of the past, Lou Reed leaves that role to the listener.
The naturalistic, ultra-realistic, at times near-savage depictions of desires, cravings, infliction of pain (on self as well as others), scenes of bodily decay and psycho-physical deprivation and dislocation leave listener wanting to do something, but what? Lou Reed’s morally neutral position as a narrator-in-chief and his status as passive observer does not help the listener or provide any guidance. One is never quite sure whether Lou Reed is a cynical observer, a critic, an antagonist, a chief protagonist, or perhaps all of the above. The narrator’s intent is about as inscrutable as that mysterious banana on the cover. You will read into this album whatever you want to. The medium is NOT the message here; the LISTENER is.
The effect on the listener is eerily disquieting. The songs – at first listen – have the feel of Emile Zola’s novel (transplanted to New York), roman à clef, or perhaps a film noir. In any event, the “French Connection” (the palpable influence of the French modernists, symbolists and naturalists) is more than evident, from the album’s first verse to its final fade. In many ways, this is the single most “European” album ever created in the United States, although with a distinctly New York flair, flavor and aroma (or stench, depending on one’s perspective).
The secret behind the album’s highly successful and influential formula appears to rest not so much in musicianship or in crafty songwriting, as in its tricky, creative, almost seductive track sequencing. The tracks flow and segue from each other naturally and organically, although – paradoxically - in some unpredictable and schizophrenic fashion, like a bunch of seemingly unrelated, disconnected vignettes. The sudden changes in song textures and moods, and unexpected tempo shifts, create a schizo-like, stop-and-go pattern, a tension-and-release adrenaline rush that never ends. The listener is constantly being kick-started into a new mindset, a new vignette, a new emotional context.
Oddly enough, despite all the focusing on negative sides of the human psyche, the album is never pessimistic or depressive. The contrasting moments of quiet beauty, joy and exuberance, as in “I’ll be your mirror”, “Femme Fatale” or “Sunday Morning” (which could easily be confused for a Peter, Paul and Mary tune, perhaps as an unintentional parody) are more than enough to compensate for its overwhelming darkness. This is one perfect example of consonance and dissonance resting side-by-side, feeding off of each other and thriving on each other in a perfect yin-and-yang unison.
We can only speculate that the album very accurately and in graphic detail reflects the life of a typical New York counterculture artist at the dawn of the psychedelic era, circa 1966. It is nothing short of amazing how relevant and alive this music still is. Nothing seems to have change since 1966, except the world climate and presidential candidates.
ABOUT THE COVER:
This is the legendary - and much coveted - first version of the Velvet Underground's "Banana Cover" album, WITH AN UNCENSORED (UN-AIRBRUSHED) image of the actor Eric Emerson's torso hanging upside-down, above the band performing on stage (there would be five versions altogether, with various combinations of back and front panels). Because Emerson objected to being included on the cover without his permission (and, more importantly, without adequate financial compensation), he filed a lawsuit against Verve (possibly even Warhol himself), who then decided to – rather than reach a costly out-of-court settlement with Emerson – either airbrush Emerson’s torso, or camouflage it by pasting a large black “song titles” sticker over the questionable torso.
While all this legal wrangling was going on, the album was held in marketing limbo, without any covers available, and with no copies in stock to be shipped to the market. An already slow chart action had slowed down to a crawl, never to regain its momentum again. Needless to say, these first versions of the cover (Torso cover) are many times – perhaps tens of times – rarer and harder to find than the subsequent (stickered or airbrushed) covers.
Then, there is the classic Warhol cover artwork: The mind-teasing cover is a sort of a Rorschach test: what exactly is this pink banana? Um… Andy, what was on (in?) your head…?
Warhol’s incredible peelable “Banana” cover (yeah, some banana it is – until, that is, you peel it off and discover that – ahem! – it is not quite edible, and not really a banana, either) is a genuine Classic in true sense of the word, one of the most iconic representations of Warhol’s subversive, decadent mind at work, and easily one of most easily recognized works of 20th century Pop-Art.
To put things in perspective, the year 1966/67 was a big year for corporate cover censors: mind you, in less than a year, the Mamas and the Papas had to endure humiliating censorship of their “Toilet Seat” cover, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons survived no less than three encounters with the artwork police (on their “Four Seasons sing Bacharach-David and Dylan” album), Jefferson Airplane’s first album was altered in both content and form (cover had to be changed, too), Frank Zappa’s first album (Freak Out) had a hippie hot-spot “blurb” excised from the cover; Bob Dylan (presumably on his own volition?) changed the layout on his “Blonde on Blonde” album, deleting the image of Claudia Cardinale; the Fugs’ first album underwent no less than 4 (four !!!) alterations (their follow-up, the Fugs’ Second Album, “only” had three versions), the cover of the Monkees’ first album had to be changed because of misperceived “transsexual” reference, Buffalo Springfield’s first album had to have a song deleted from BOTH record AND the cover; Simon and Garfunkel’s second album (The Sounds of Silence) underwent no less than three cover revisions; and even the mighty Beatles had to endure humiliating retraction of the “Butcher” cover (on their ‘Yesterday and Today’ album). In other words, corporate censors and self-censors were out in full force back in 1966.
A NOTE ON ANDY WARHOL'S ALBUM COVERS:
Warhol did album covers throughout his entire life - the most well-known being this 1967 Velvet Underground album featuring a banana and the 1971 cover for The Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers, co-designed with Craig Braun, which featured an image of a man's crotch in a pair of jeans with a functioning zipper. The Nations Nightmare was probably the first album cover featuring Warhol's work. Concidentally, it dealt with the use of recreational drugs - a theme that would often be associated with Warhol and his entourage throughout the 1960s as a result of films like which showed shooting up speed on camera. Warhol would also became known for his use of transvestites in his films. In approximately 1952, the same year that he won the award for The Nation's Nightmare, Warhol also did some of his earliest drawings of a man in drag when he sketched the photographer, Otto Fenn, dressed as a woman. Warhol's drawings were similar to photographs that Fenn had taken of himself dressed as a woman.
Other than these, Andy Warhol also did fine cover artwork for albums by Artie Shaw, Count Basie, Kenny Burrell (3 covers), Johnny Griffin, Joe Newman, Bennie Green, Diana Ross, John Cale (2 covers), John Wallowitch, Rolling Stones (2 covers), Velvet Underground (2 covers), Moondog, Liza Minelli, John Lennon, Thelonious Monk, Paul Anka, Billy Squier, Tennesse Williams and many, many others.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS WHO INFLUENCED THIS ALBUM:
It is abundantly clear that the works of French expressionists, esoteric symbolists and naturalists of the 19th century (and dadaists of the 20th), informed this album in a major way -- and in more ways than one. The album’s deceptive focus on negativism and occasional morbidity (check out Black Angel’s Death Song, for example) can help us trace origins of its stylistic spirit to a great Charles Baudelaire; the album’s subversion and decadence are directly attributable to Paul Verlaine; the bits of savage naturalism and organic decay are telltale signs of the impact of Zola and Flaubert (who may well have penned Venus in Furs himself), the deconstructionist mindset of Lou Reed can probably be credited to Cezanne and Braque, and so on and so forth. Whether the European influences are the result of the group’s two European “imports” (Cale and Nico) or are genuinely Lou Reed’s own, we dare not speculate. Perhaps both.
The impact of French Dadaists is more complex and tenuous, and almost certainly coming from John Cale rather than Lou Reed. Cale made numerous references to Dada in his solo work (check out his 1973 ‘Paris 1919’ album, whose very title evokes certain dadaist connotations and connections).
Another European source of influence must have been the dark - and distinctly European - art film. It seems to me that Lou Reed (more likely it was Warhol, though) was weaned on Bergman, Polanski, Malle and Antonioni to such an extent that it was inevitable the album would overflow with intense psychological tension that would make a typical Anton Chekhov drama feel positively listless.
But this is only one side of the affair. The album is a work of American artists first and foremost, created in American milieu, and its American credentials and bloodlines are thick as mud. Its zen-like, haiku-styled verses and beatnik romanticism show direct influx of the preceding generation of Beat Poets and artists: That Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were among Lou Reed’s formative influences goes without saying: it is a foregone conclusion.
Then, there are oddities: ‘There she goes again’ is a note-for-note carbon copy of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Pride and Joy’ from 1963 (bordering on – gasp! – plagiarism), a small morsel of inspiration passed on to Lou Reed directly from the world of Rhythm and Blues (the R&B connection is clearly detectable on some of the tracks, notably on ‘Waiting for my man’ but is greatly lost elsewhere). Was Lou Reed listening to the Blues?!?! You bet your sweet derierre he was. Listen closely enough, and you will find bits and pieces (and sometimes even truck-sized boulders) of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Slim Harpo, all neatly buried in the mounds of garage noise and electric cacophony piling up in the foreground.
The Fugs’ in-your-face antagonism and unabashed anarchism, social (and personal) deviance and incestuous subversion must have made quite a seismic impact on Lou Reed. Mind you, by the time Velvets’ first album came out, the Fugs already had two albums under their belt and were considered a revolutionary avant-garde in their own city, a massive influence on just about every garage band to follow in their footsteps. Fugs and Velvets share one important common denominator: both were Lower East Side-based and gigged extensively in the East Village area.
Then there is a foreboding shadow of Bob Dylan, hovering above the album’s characters and verses like a ghost of Hamlet’s father. From double-entendres to surreal word play to deadpan delivery, the album has “Dylan” sprayed all over it. But this Dylan is not so much playful as he is dark, menacing and cryptic. This Dylan is more like a Golem from some Jewish ghetto than a playful, punning modster who gave us “Rainy Day Women” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Bob Dylan and Velvets shared one very important common denominator: both Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, released in 1965, and this album (Velvet Underground and Nico) shared the same producer: . Tom Wilson was also a common denominator between the Velvets and their “evil twins” from the West Coast: Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention (Tom Wilson produced the Mother’s first album, Freak Out).
Speaking of Dylan, there is no doubt in my mind that there is another kindred spirit haunting the grooves of this album about as much as Dylan: that of Lenny Bruce (who toured with Zappa & the Mothers around the time Velvets began recording this album). Bruce, who died later that year (August 1966) was probably more of an influence on Lou Reed than all of the above combined. His relentless, corrosive verbal assault on petty burgoisie and petty minds permeates this album from start to finish. If he’d heard the Velvets album from some comedy clubhouse in the sky, he must have laughed his a** off (sorry, Lenny, eBay forbids expletives; we are still being forced to self-censor, even today, 40 years after your death. Today it is called “community standards” (yikes!).
Finally, there is also a minor possibility – we remain open-minded on this one - that Lou Reed was listening to classic Jazz vocalists of the bygone era and was greatly touched by some of them. If you listen to his vocal delivery more closely, you will find mannerisms of Billie Holiday (to whom he dedicated “Lady Day” from his 1973 ‘Berlin’ album), raspy playfulness of Louis Armstrong, whispery quality of Peggy Lee, occasional traces of wistful melancholy of Helen Merrill and thinly veiled sexual undertones of Dinah Washington. In all, the Velvet Underground’s first album is a microcosm, an organic soup of diverse, sometimes incongruent, but always eclectic, influences that shaped the lives and the musical tastes of its founding members.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS WHO WERE INFLUENCED BY VELVET UNDEGROUND:
This is the album for all people, and all seasons, and one of the very few "Rock" albums that not only aged with dignity, but actually improved with age. If you wish to know just how much meaningful this music was to the artists who followed in Velvets’ footsteps, just ask Jonathan Richman who, by his own admission, attended every single one of the band’s East Coast concerts between 1969 and 1971 (some 70 or so concerts, in all).
What is particularly impressive is that this album inspired not only one artist and not only one Rock offshoot, but many different and diverse schools of Rock over the next four decades. From Glamrock of the New York Dolls and David Bowie, to in-your-face assault of The Stooges, to the glue-sniffing riffs of the Ramones, to the urban romanticism of Television, to the soul-tearing psychic agony of Joy Division, to buzz-saw torrents of punk noise of the Clash and Sex Pistols, to the politically activist rock of The Gang of Four, to gothic noise of Sonic Youth, to disgruntled grunge of Nirvana, and beyond -- on to the repetitive industrial rhythms of Techno and Electronica, the spirit of the Velvet Undergroud is alive and well. Perhaps more now than it has ever been. Even the lateral branches of the gigantic Rock Tree were touched and inspired by the urban lyricism of the Velvets’ first album. Listen closely and you will find traces of Lou Reed in vaudevillian surrealism of Tom Waits, in the sparse, austere sound of the Cowboy Junkies, in the gothic quality of Marianne Faithfull’s live appearances and just about everything and everyone in between.
In closing: does the first paragraph of this essay, which claims that: “… THIS is the single most important album in Rock history and the single most influential Rock session of the 20th Century” now make a little more sense?
If it does NOT, you should NOT bid on this album.
If it DOES, you SHOULD.
For its extraordinary contribution to the contemporary music, superb production, craftsmanship, fine musicianship, revolutionary significance and influence it exerted on numerous generations of musicians, songwriters and general public, or for some other inherent quality, this album was voted one of top-200 albums of all time in one of the largest poll of critics, music reviewers, show business professionals and producers ever organized: the poll, which was conducted by Paul Gambaccini, the legendary BBC Radio A&R man, surveyed more than 50 top music professionals (including Roy Carr, Jonathan Cott, Robert Christgau, Cameron Crowe, Chet Flippo, Ben Fong-Torres, Charlie Gillett, Greil Marcus, Murray the K., Lenny Kaye, Bruce Morrow (a/k/a "Cousin Brucie"), Tim Rice , Lisa Robinson, Robert Shelton, Ed Ward, Joel Whitburn, Pete Wingfield, etc.). For more details, see: "Critics Choice: Top-200 albums" , Omnibus Press, Library of Congress Catalog No.7855565 (or ► for the complete album listing)
Reflecting the historical importance of this album, as well as its popular and critical acclaim, The Rolling Stones Magazine selected this album as on of the top-200 Rock albums of all time in their recent global poll. for more details).
For additional historical or discography information on this album, including track listing ►
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TO SEE IF WE HAVE OTHER LISTED ANDY WARHOL COVERS ►
(IMPORTANT NOTE: unless otherwise noted, ALL records are graded visually, and NOT play-graded!; we grade records under the strong, diffuse room light or discrete sunlight)
(a) WE GRADE THE VINYL AS EXCELLENT. This is one of those albums that are somewhat difficult to grade. It is somewhere between VG++ and NEAR MINT, just a notch below NEAR MINT. A few light abrasions ARE visible, but they are extremely shallow, superficial and only moderately visually distracting (nothing significant).For the most part, the vinyl looks impeccable without any MAJOR visual flaws or imperfections. Much of the original luster is intact, and the vinyl shines and sparkles almost like new.
(b) The record is pressed on a beautiful, thick, inflexible vinyl, which was usually used for the first or very early pressings. Usually, the sound on such thick vinyl pressings is full-bodied, vivid, and even dramatic. Do not expect to obtain such a majestic analog sound from a digital recording!
(c) Of course, this is a full-bodied ANALOG recording, and not an inferior, digital recording!!!
· COVER (THIS IS THE MONUMENTALLY RARE ORIGINAL, FIRST VERSION OF THE COVER WITH ERIC EMERSON’S TORSO UNCENSORED (UN-AIRBRUSHED)
THE COVER IS NICE --- ABOUT VERY GOOD+(+)
The following flaws or imperfections are noted on the cover:
- The gatefold cover has partially split seams on 2 out of 4 "legs" of the cover (about 2 and 6 inches / 1 inch = 2.5 centimeters). Both split seams were delicately taped by the previous owner with a piece of transparent scotch tape
- Cover has a partially split right-edge (opening side) seam (between 2 and 4 inches / 5 to 10 centimeters)
- Cover has some minor fraying/tattering on all three seams
- Cover has all four corners slightly worn / dinged
- Cover has some light ring wear (nothing significant); On the scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the least, and 10 being the most severe), we assess the severity of ring wear as 3 (front side) and 4 (back side)
- The cover has a few tiny scratch marks on the back side
- Back cover has a few yellowish dust speckles scattered here and there (these tiny spots are not overly obtrusive or distracting) ; Similar stains can also be found on the inside gatefold
- Cover shows some light yellowing on both sides, apparently from aging (nothing significant). Yellowing is also noted on the INSIDE gatefold
- Cover has a few tiny wrinkles along the spine
NO OTHER VISIBLE FLAWS OR IMPERFECTIONS ON THE COVER
POSTAGE & SHIPPING:
We offer THREE postage rates for both Domestic and International Mail: Media Mail, Priority Mail and Express Mail for domestic, and First Class, Priority International Mail, and Express International Mail for international orders. INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS PLEASE NOTE: WE RECOMMEND that you pay for USPS International Priority Mail OR International Express mail when making a payment in order to obtain tracking information, which is NOT available for First Class International shipments.
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